Nov. 15 – BETHANY, W. Va. – Despite rushing for a season-high 336 yards, the Bethany College football team (6-4, 5-3 PAC) dropped a 41-35 decision to Saint Vincent College on Saturday.
The Bison started off the game on the right foot, scoring on two of their first three drives to jump out to a 14-0 lead. The Bearcats gave great field position to the Bison after going for a fake punt on 4th-and-12 from their own 15-yard line. Senior Sherman Hodges (Upper Marlboro, Md./Fredrick Douglass) stopped the ball carrier short of the first down marker, and Bethany took over with a first down from the Bearcat 26-yard line. Five plays later, senior Brandon Hill (McKeesport, Pa./Elizabeth Forward) found the end zone from seven yards out to give Bethany the 7-0 lead.
After forcing a Saint Vincent punt, the Bison found pay dirt again, this time needing just three rushes by Jalen Holmes (New Castle, Pa./New Castle). After rattling four and five yards in his first two carries, Holmes broke through the line and out ran the defense for a 55-yard score, the longest of his career, to give the Green & White the 14-0 advantage.
Saint Vincent would respond in the game, rattling off the next 14 points to send the game into the half with the score tied at 14-14. The Bearcats received their first score on a three-yard run by Shavonta Craft. They then knotted the game late in the half on a seven-yard pass from quarterback Matt Deakins to freshman tight end Damon Black with just 13 seconds to play in the frame.
The Bison had the ball to start the second half, but Saint Vincent quickly took over after sophomore quarterback Brian Vales (Pittsburgh, Pa./Avonworth) threw his second interception of the game. The Bearcats then used eight plays to go 65 yards for the go-ahead score. Craft found the end zone for his second rushing touchdown of the game, this time from ten yards out, to give Saint Vincent the 20-14 lead.
In the start of the fourth quarter, Saint Vincent would extend the lead to 27-14 on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Deakins to Lazaro Garcia. The touchdown would start a streak of six-straight possessions in the fourth quarter which ended in scores.
The Bison quickly responded to the Bearcats score with a nine-play 64-yard drive. The Bison used eight running plays, which included four touches by Hill, to find the end zone. In the final run by Hill, the senior found pay dirt from one-yard out to cut the Saint Vincent lead to 27-21.
Saint Vincent would immediately respond following a 47-yard kickoff return by Darius Brown. A personal foul penalty on the Bison moved the ball inside the Bethany red zone, and the Bearcats scored just two plays later. Deakins found Black for his second touchdown reception of the game, and Saint Vincent led, 34-21.
Bethany would not go away, however, and would find the end zone on the ground for the fourth time in the contest. After a 20-yard kickoff return by freshman Aaron Tedys (Ellwood City, Pa./Riverside) placed the Bison at the 44-yard line, the Green & White found themselves in four-down territory. Following two short gains and an incomplete pass, Bethany was looking at a fourth-and-three from the Saint Vincent 49-yard line. Vales escaped the pocket, avoiding Bearcat rushers, and ran for the first down. However, the sophomore quarterback did not stop there. Avoiding defenders along the sidelines, Vales broke multiple tackles and raced to the end zone for the 49-yard touchdown. The longest running play in the brief tenure of the signal caller pulled the Bison within six, 34-28.
The Bearcats would put some distance between them and the Bison once again as they used a seven-play, 74-yard drive to go back up by 13. The scoring play came on another touchdown pass from Deakins, as he found Dustin Lowman for a 25-yard score to put Saint Vincent up 41-28.
The Bison would once again respond, needing just 1:51 to do so. With Bethany facing a fourth-and-six, Vales wound up and threw deep down the middle of the field. Sophomore Tyler Ambush (Germantown, Md./Northwest) hauled the ball in for a 40-yard gain, and the Bison were in business inside the Saint Vincent five-yard line. Two plays later, Holmes found the end zone for his second score of the night, and Bethany was once again back within a touchdown, 41-35.
The Bison defense stood strong on the ensuing Saint Vincent possession, giving the Bison the ball back with 1:19 remaining in the game and all three timeouts. However, Bethany was stopped short of the first-down marker on fourth-and-four, and the Green & White fell, 41-35.
In the loss, the Bison posted a season-best 336 yards rushing. The totaled marked the most rushing yards posted by Bethany since September 11, 2010, when the Bison notched 387 yards on the ground. Hill and Holmes each went over 100 yards as Holmes posted 131 on 16 carries and Hill notched 122 yards on 23 totes. Each back also scored twice. The two touchdowns by Hill marked his fourth multi-touchdown game of the season.
Vales also ran well in the game, finishing the contest with 83 yards on 11 carries and a score. He also added 84 yards passing on 12-of-24. Ambush led the way in the receiving corps, finishing with 51 yards. Despite being held to a season low in both receptions and receiving yards, junior Eric Blinn (Beaver, Pa./Western Beaver) broke the Bethany single-season receptions record. He finished the day with five catches, giving him 97 on the year. He broke his own record of 95 which he set one season ago.
Defensively, the Bison once again totaled over 10 tackles for loss. The team notched 12.0 TFL in the game, led by junior Eric Campbell’s (Hurricane, W. Va./Hurricane) 4.0. Junior Donavan Hayden (Hyattsville, Md./Northwestern) finished the game with a career-best 18 tackles while Campbell had 11 and junior Larry Kpadehyea (Monrovia, Md./Gaithersburg) finished with 10. Kpadehyea also totaled four pass breakups in the contest, a career high.
Before the contest, 14 Bison were honored during senior day festivities. The 14 senior members included: Hodges, Chris Collins (Youngstown, Ohio/Ursuline), Greg Roberson (Upper Marlboro, Md./Frederick Douglass), Brooks Kursey (Martinsburg, W. Va./Hedgesville), Chris Burg (Martinsburg, W. Va./Martinsburg), Anthony Thompson (Colquitt, Ga./Miller County), Dez Ball (McKeesport, Pa./McKeesport), Hill, Brian McLee (Uniontown, Pa./Uniontown), Stephen Amic (McDonald, Pa./West Allegheny), Terrel Carter (Gaithersburg, Md./Gaithersburg), Nick Greer (Pittsburgh, Pa./Thomas Jefferson), Juliano DeVito (North Huntingdon, Pa./Greensburg Central Catholic) and Wyssmy Despagne (Riverdale, Md./Parkdale).
The Bison finished the season with a 6-4 record, marking the most wins by the program since the 2001 campaign.